Given its popularity, we all want to explore writing for Medium in India, today. Before that, let’s understand the what, why and how of it.
What is Medium?
Medium is an American online publishing platform launched in August 2012 with the idea of creating a space for writers all over the world to share their stories about topics of their choice. It was developed by Evan Williams, who’s also the co-founder of Twitter and Blogger.
Perhaps the most welcome change in the Medium interface came in 2017 when Medium announced the Partner Program. On the surface, this is a system that pays writers for the number of minutes their articles have been read. Effectively, Medium collects a monthly subscription fee of $5 from readers on the platform. This fee is distributed among all the writers whose articles they read.
Since the partner program started gaining traction, a whole new breed of online writers have emerged, a community that makes a full-time or part-time living based on their earnings by writing for Medium. It revolutionized online content creation. Making money by writing for Medium about whatever you wished had never been easier.
How can you use the Medium effectively for writing?
This post is about how you can effectively use the platform for writing for Medium which can be your personal stories, building your personal brand, and perhaps even making a living. But first let’s talk about the advantages writing for Medium has over creating your own website. Mark Manson, the internet sensation and bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, has an excellent quote about the path to making a living as a blogger:
Getting traffic (and earning money, but we’ll come to that later) to your writing for Medium is not so difficult.
Why should YOU be writing on Medium?
Here are the biggest benefits of blogging on Medium v/s creating your own website:
- Getting traffic on Medium is a lot easier than writing on your personal blog. As of October 2019, Medium has nearly 100 million monthly readers. More than a year later, the stats can only be assumed to have drastically increased. I started writing on the platform seven months ago. I don’t know anything about SEO or content marketing, and yet, I average on 60,000 views each month.
- A new writer with zero followers can start making money on Medium. Monetizing your personal website would take several years, and even when you do it, the advertisements you run might actually hamper your credibility.
- Medium has amazing formatting tools that any beginner can easily use. You don’t need to dive deep into WordPress formatting techniques to make an article look aesthetically pleasing.
What to expect from writing for Medium?
When a new writer starts on this platform, it’s easy to lose yourself amid the hundreds of different articles on the homepage. When I started out in May 2020, I was no different. I floundered, made mistakes, got frustrated, and almost gave up. But here I am today, still persisting.
In the time I’ve spent writing for Medium, here are the most important lessons I learned that will help any new writer stick around:
As on any online platform, titles can make or break your article. If you write amazing content with a bad title, chances are most readers won’t even click on it. The art of writing good headlines lies in understanding two simple rules:
- Don’t make lofty promises you might not be able to deliver (e.g. “The Only”, “The One”, “Forever”, etc.)
- Let the reader know exactly what they can expect from the article just by going through the title.
- Put yourself in the shoes of the reader and ask the WIIFM question — What’s in it for me? A reader won’t click on an article unless the title makes them feel they’ve got a lot to lose if they do not click on it.
Formatting a good Medium article
Medium has some amazing formatting tools that help you design and structure your articles like a professional writer. Clean, well-formatted articles perform well on Medium. Here are some tips that will come in handy for beginners:
- Break your paragraphs up into smaller ones. No reader likes to be attacked with a huge block of text the moment they click on an article.
- Write a compelling introduction — something that will make the reader want to keep scrolling till the end.
- Break the article into sections and give each section a section header.
- All sections should be separated by a separator. You can add this by clicking the “+” button that appears on pressing enter. From there, select the “- -” button to add a separator between two sections in your article (screenshot attached).
- From the same menu, you can add pictures by clicking on the camera button. The magnifying glass icon connects to Unsplash where you can type in keywords to look for relevant images that suit your article.
- The ideal length of articles that consistently perform well on Medium is 5 minutes or longer (1100+ words). There’s no maximum limit to the number of words in your article. However, the onus is on you to write clear, concise pieces that do not ramble on. Avoid fluff and fillers, and stick to the point.
Writing for Medium for the audience
You don’t always need to talk about serious topics. It’s possible to get famous writing personal stories on Medium. I know many successful writers who do that.
The only thing you need to remember is that you are writing for the reader, not yourself. So, be empathetic, have a hook in the beginning, and include a takeaway that would be helpful to the reader. A catchy title and proper formatting also go a long way in making sure a person doesn’t lose interest while reading.
Establishing your personal brand
The relational model of Medium makes it very easy for a reader to connect with their favourite writers on the platform. The “follow” button is prominent both at the top, the sidebar, and the bottom of a story. If a reader enjoys your work, they are sure to follow you.
Write about topics you’re passionate about and questions you can’t stop asking. Weave stories around the most common issues your friends come to you for advice. Write about the lessons your learned from the last book you read or the movie that made you laugh until you had tears in your eyes.
If you choose a few niches and stick to them, your audience will grow over time. The best news is that though Medium heavily prefers articles about science, technology, and business, I’ve seen several writers succeed by writing about books, personal development, feminism and culture. As long as you deliver value to the reader, you can write about whatever topic you want.
On Medium, quantity translates to quality. The more you write, the more you’ll figure out what works on the platform.
There’s another benefit to being consistent — when you build a body of work, you’re essentially exposing your work to the public before you’re an expert. As Nicholas Cole puts it, you’re practicing in public. Before you become a master at your craft, when you keep creating daily content and posting it online, your work can be consumed and reviewed by potentially millions of people across the globe.
By creating more, not only do you increase your chances of having that one viral piece of content, but also open yourself up to receiving feedback from the audience. Of course, not all the comments are going to be good, but if you keep an open mind, you can learn from 90% of the response. Some might be harsh, but if you’re willing to improve, you can turn every acerbic message into an opportunity for growth.
Either way, consistency always pays off.
I wrote 30 articles a month for 4 months without a break before I started earning $1000 each month from the platform. There are no short-cuts to success. To make it big on Medium, you have to keep writing. There’ll be days and weeks when you feel like quitting — as if nothing in the world would feel better than to just give up. It’s on days like that when you’ve to push yourself to write.
Because no matter how many strategies you apply, nothing beats consistency.
How to build an audience by writing for Medium?
Building an audience is easy by writing for Medium if you publish in publications. See, Medium had publications within it that publish articles of a particular niche. When you submit your story to a publication, you have the advantage of harnessing the huge potential of their followers in addition to your own follower-base. Here are some points to keep in mind before selecting which publication to apply to:
- Look for publications that strictly stick to a niche as compared to ones that publish just about anything.
- Smaller targeted publications have a better chance of making your article go viral than a larger one that publishes 300+ stories each day. 6 out of 10 of my highest earning pieces in November were published in Books Are Our Superpower.
- Before applying, go religiously through all the submission guidelines of a publication and make sure your story fits in with them.
Here’s my list of 10 best publications on Medium for beginners:
- ILLUMINATION (49,000+ followers): Personal development, poetry, fiction, personal stories. Submission guidelines.
- The Innovation (20,000+ followers): Entrepreneurship, self-improvement, business, creativity, design thinking, personal essays. Submission guidelines.
- Books Are Our Superpower (2300+ followers): Book reviews, recommendations, personal stories about becoming a better reader. Submission guidelines.
- The Ascent (139,000+ followers): Stories that inspire and educate others to lead better lives. Submission guidelines.
- Age of Awareness (38,000+ followers): Education, productivity, personal development, self-help. Submission guidelines.
- Better Marketing (110,000+ followers): Marketing, entrepreneurship, success, startups. Submission guidelines.
- PS I Love You (254,000+ followers): Personal essays, relationships, poetry, fiction. Submission guidelines.
- The Startup (733,000+ followers): Entrepreneurship, creativity, freelancing, startups, investing, innovation, marketing, social media. Submission guidelines.
- The Writing Cooperative (222,000+ followers): Writing, book publishing, marketing, becoming a better writer. Submission guidelines.
- Better Programming (160,000+ followers): Actionable advice for other engineers on non-code-related aspects of the job (negotiation, dealing with imposter syndrome, how to be a good manager, remote work, etc.). Submission guidelines.
Writing for Medium for Native English Speaking Audience
The Big Question which haunts most of the people is- What does it means to be an Indian writing to an audience consisting of mostly native English speakers?
When I first started writing for Medium, I used to worry about being a non-native English speaker on a platform with a largely English-speaking audience. Many of the stories I saw on the homepage were about the U.S. politics, the coronavirus pandemic, or some expert educational topics I had no idea about.
Since I’m not an expert on US politics, or for that matter, any topic, I wondered if writing on Medium among a bunch of such elite writers would indeed be worth the effort. The only things I knew about were books and my own self-publishing journey. These were topics I stuck to in my first days on the platform, and surprisingly, my first story to hit $100 was an article about book recommendations. My self-publishing story also made good money and the comments left by the readers were heartening and uplifting. This made me understand that if you’re passionate about writing on a topic, your level of expertise hardly matters.
Over time, I realized that I could share the stories closest to my heart, and if I’m able to trigger an emotional response in the reader, the stories will be welcome. Recently, one of my stories got accepted into a Medium-owned publication and was featured on the Medium homepage. This was a story about how I faced racial discrimination as a woman from the North-eastern part of India in the capital of the country.
I was also awarded the tag of being a Top Writer in Culture. Achievements like these make me realize that being from a different country is not an impediment. Rather, it’s my superpower. As people of colour, our birth makes our stories unique. Writing on Medium is a great experience. It is an incredibly accepting platform and continues to give a voice to so many writers from all over the world.
How to join the Medium Partner Program from India
There is a lot of confusion regarding receiving payments from Medium in India. The payment mechanism for anyone living in India is not quite simple. I have tried to clarify some of these questions with my video and explained the way to workaround this issue. You can see it HERE.
Medium is a wonderful place to write content, build an audience, and get paid for your writing. Aside from the partner program, there are several publications on Medium that pay to publish articles with them. Some of them are OneZero, Elemental, Gen, Zora, Forge, and Human Parts. These are publications owned by Medium, and pay directly for their content. Content and submission contact information for most of these Medium publications can be found HERE.
In spite of all the detailed information I’ve included in this article, the platform can still get somewhat confusing for beginners. I worked with a few people in the past months, helping them make their first $100 from writing on Medium. 100% of them made their first $100 within 2 months of working with me.
If your goal is to make money by writing on the platform, I’m launching my course + coaching program to help you earn your first $100 from writing. In the course, I’ll cover the following:
- Understanding the basics of the platforms, stories, responses, publications, etc.
- Generating ideas, crafting pieces to perfection, and maintaining a daily writing habit.
- The anatomy of a successful Medium story with bonus checklists you can tick off before publishing.
- How to pitch to and get accepted in major Medium publications. This will also include tips and strategies for writing your first commissioned article.
- Choosing the right tags, analyzing your stats, getting more internal views and working your way towards exponential growth on Medium.
- Real-life case-studies to analyze what works and what doesn’t on Medium.
- Achieving success outside Medium, setting your email list, and pitching to other publications that pay.
The coaching program will consist of video footage, checklists, a private mastermind group, editing and formatting support, and 1-on-1 brainstorming/coaching sessions. You can learn more details here.